Taiwan president awarded John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service

05/04/2021 11:25 AM
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President Tsai Ing-wen (front right). CNA file photo
President Tsai Ing-wen (front right). CNA file photo

Toronto, May 3 (CNA) President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) on Monday was awarded the 2020 John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service in recognition of her leadership in defending Taiwan's democracy and standing up against Chinese aggression.

The Washington-based Halifax International Security Forum, which announced its decision in a video posted online Monday, said Tsai, "arguably the most powerful female politician in the Chinese-speaking world," has helped Taiwan stand up against Beijing's military coercion and international isolation.

The video also noted that under her tenure, Taiwan was the first country in Asia to legalize same-sex marriage, and it also paid tribute to Taiwan's success in containing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The John McCain Prize for Leadership in Public Service, named after late U.S. Senator John McCain, is an annual award handed out by the forum to individuals from any country who have demonstrated "uncommon leadership in the pursuit of human justice."

In 2019, the award was given to the people of Hong Kong, where mass protests followed plans to pave the way for extraditions to mainland China.

Monday's announcement was made despite the Canadian government reportedly warning the organizers of the Halifax forum that it would pull its funding if the prize was given to Tsai, apparently worried about angering Beijing, which sees Taiwan as part of its territory.

The annual forum receives half its funding from Canada's Department of National Defense.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau later denied that the government had issued a warning, saying that the forum was free to make its own decision and promising that his administration would continue to help fund the nongovernmental organization.

The Canadian House of Commons also adopted a motion by unanimous consent saying Tsai was an ideal candidate for the prize.

In a press release, presidential spokesman Xavier Chang (張惇涵) said Tsai was honored to receive the award, saying that the honor represents the achievement of the whole country and not hers alone.

The nation's success in preventing the spread of the pandemic shows the world that Taiwan can achieve a great deal should the country be united as one and that it is a force for good that can contribute to the world, Chang said.

(By Hu Yu-li and Joseph Yeh)


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